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Manchester rivals win as City stay top for Christmas

Last updated on: December 22, 2011 12:07 IST

Manchester rivals win as City stay top for Christmas

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Premier League leaders Manchester City and champions Manchester United switched attention back to the action and away from controversies surrounding racism with easy wins on Wednesday.

City ensured they will be top at Christmas for the first time since 1929 with a 3-0 home win over Stoke City thanks to two goals from Sergio Aguero and one from Adam Johnson.

The performance delighted boss Roberto Mancini who told the BBC: "We are happy to be top but as I said three days ago it's important to stay top at the end of the season.

"But for our supporters I think it's a good Christmas. If we want to win the championship we should get 90 points because Manchester United keep winning," he added.


Image: Manchester City's Sergio Auguero celebrates after scoring against Stoke City
Photographs: Getty Images

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United hammer hapless Fulham

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United remained two points behind City after thrashing Fulham 5-0 at Craven Cottage, although the victory was not without cost as manager Alex Ferguson explained.

"The performance in the first half was as good as we have played all season, but we've got a couple of injuries," he said. 

Among United's scorers was 38-year-old Ryan Giggs who maintained his record of a goal in all 20 seasons since the Premier League began, although his effort just before halftime took a deflection off Fulham defender Philippe Senderos.

"It was very impressive, we've not scored as many as we'd like to but we'd been playing well," Giggs told the BBC.

"The second part of the season we always kick on and put in performances and that's pleasing. We don't want to rely on the forwards for goals, we need to share them around."

Danny Wellbeck, Nani with a rare header, Wayne Rooney with a stunning 30-metre shot and Dimitar Berbatov with a cheeky backheel sent Fulham to their heaviest home defeat for 24 years.

It was Giggs' first league goal of the season and it came just before Aston Villa's Marc Albrighton scored the 20,000th since the Premier League started in 1992-93 to cancel out Robin Van Persie's first-half penalty for Arsenal.


Image: Manchester United's Ryan Giggs celebrates with teammates
Photographs: Getty Images

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Benayoun hands Arsenal a crucial win

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Villa's relief was short-lived though as Yossi Benayoun struck with an 87th-minute header to give Arsenal a 2-1 win, their eighth in their last 10 league matches.

Villa ended the match with 10 men after defender Alan Hutton was sent off after 88 minutes for a second yellow card.

Uruguayan Luis Suarez, found guilty on Tuesday and banned for eight matches and fined 40,000 pounds for racially insulting Manchester United's Patrice Evra in October, was allowed, pending his appeal, to play for Liverpool whose Charlie Adam missed a penalty in a 0-0 draw at Wigan Athletic.


Image: Arsenal's Yossi Benayoun celebrates after scoring
Photographs: Getty Images

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Sunderland beat QPR in a thriller

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In other matches Sunderland won a thriller at Loftus Road where they beat QPR 3-2 after the home side had fought back from 2-0 down to level at 2-2.

Former Manchester United defender Wes Brown headed Sunderland's winner in the closing minutes, his first league goal for three years to give new manager Martin O'Neill his second win in three matches since taking over from Steve Bruce at the beginning of the month.

West Bromwich Albion also won a pre-Christmas cracker, triumphing 3-2 at Newcastle United who have now taken just two points from their last six matches after starting the season with an 11-match unbeaten run.

Everton beat Swansea City 1-0 at Goodison Park with Leon Osman scoring in the second half.


Image: Sunderland's Wes Brown scores
Photographs: Getty Images

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